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News from the UIUC Rare Book and Manuscript Library

APRIL 2014
(Best viewed online)

In This Issue:

  • Gwendolyn Brooks Celebration!
    A Special Program of Remembrance, Poetry, and Song Thursday, April 24

  • Don't Drive, Ride!
    Take a Poetry Bus to See the Brooks Celebration

  • From Babylon to Baseball:
    Spring Exhibition Now Open!

  • RBML'ers Enter 2014 Edible Book Contest

  • RBML Curator Caroline Szylowicz and Proust at Chicago's Alliance Française

  • Summer 2013 Proust Exhibition Hand-out Wins National Award

  • No. 44 Society Field Trip to Fresh Press—Reservations Required

  • RBML to Host Boneyard Arts Festival Event, April 10

  • RBML Receives Further Gift of Sandburg Materials from Family of Artist William Smith

  • Shakespeare Turns 450: Party in RBML on April 23!

  • Guardian Podcast Features Former RBML Visiting Scholar Sherborne Considering
    H. G. Wells and the Bomb

  • RBML Joins Twitter-Verse

Gwendolyn Brooks

RBML & Campus to Celebrate the Gwendolyn Brooks Papers,
April 24, 2014

Afternoon Talk by Brooks' Associate, Haki Madhubuti, to be Followed by Evening Readings and Song

Haki Madhubuti Talk:
"Gwendolyn Brooks: Beyond the Word Maker, a Black Poet and Activist"

4 p.m. in Room 66 Main Library

Haki R. Madhubuti is the Founder and President of Chicago's Third World Press.

Poet, publisher, editor, educator, and one of the architects of the Black Arts Movement, he has been a pivotal figure in the development of a strong Black literary tradition.

Among Madhubuti’s latest books are Honoring Genius: Gwendolyn Brooks: The Narrative of Craft, Art, Kindness and Justice (2011) and By Any Means Necessary, Malcolm X: Real, Not Reinvented (co-edited with Herb Boyd, Ron Daniels and Maulana Karenga, 2012).

He is the former University Distinguished Professor and a professor of English at Chicago State University where he founded and was director-emeritus of the Gwendolyn Brooks Center and director of the Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing Program.

Full of Pepper and Light: Welcoming the Gwendolyn Brooks Papers to the University of Illinois
Thursday, April 24, 2014 at 7:30 p.m.

To welcome the papers of poet and writer Gwendolyn E. Brooks (1917-2000), the University of Illinois Rare Book & Manuscript Library and many campus partners are organizing an evening of poetry, remembrance, and song called; “Full of Pepper and Light: Welcoming the Gwendolyn Brooks Papers to the University of Illinois.” It will take place at the newly-renovated Lincoln Hall Theater (702 South Wright Street, Urbana) at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 24, 2014.

Those in attendance will be treated to poets and scholars reading and thinking about the poems and legacy of Brooks, the third Poet Laureate for the State of Illinois (following Carl Sandburg,) and the first African-American writer to win a Pulitzer Prize.

Performers will include the University of Illinois Black Chorus, led by Professor Ollie Watts Davis, a troupe of players led by Brooks' daughter Nora Brooks Blakely, and many “friends of Gwen,” including Haki Madhubuti, co-founder and director emeritus of the Gwendolyn Brooks Center for Black Literature and Creative Writing. Admission is free.

The “Full of Pepper and Light” celebration is being produced and sponsored by the Rare Book & Manuscript Library; the Departments of English, African American Studies, Religion, Theater, and Music; the University Library; the University of Illinois Office of Public Engagement; the Center for Advanced Studies; and the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts.

A contest inviting High School students to create a one to five minute video inspired by Brooks' poem, "Speech to the Young: Speech to the Progress-Toward," will award the winning entry with a spot in the program, as well $300 towards their favorite High School club. Entries (deadline has been extended) are due April 15. Click here to learn more.

The celebration kicks off just six months after Brooks’ papers arrived at Illinois. Spanning more than six decades, they include some of her earliest surviving poetry and prose, as well as early scrapbooks and clippings of pieces she published as a young woman in The Chicago Defender. In addition, the collection contains extensive correspondence, manuscripts, and informal jottings, annotations, and observations. The largest portion of Brooks’ papers documents her career after leaving mainstream commercial publishing to produce her works with small presses and Black-owned imprints, including her own imprint, The David Company.

Don't Want to Drive to the Show? Ride a Poetry Bus, and Leave the Driving to Us!

Special Poetry Shuttles Will Operate From Local Public Libraries

Using the bus to avoid campus parking is never a bad idea. But an even better idea is taking a Poetry Bus!

We have arranged for buses to shuttle (back and forth) Brooks Celebration attendees from the Urbana Free, Champaign Public, and Douglass Branch Libraries.

These free Poetry Buses will be captained by creative, poetry-minded individuals who'll get you in the poetry groove with brief group readings on the way to the show.

Reservations are requested, but not required. Please email Marten Stromberg (mstrombe at illinois dot edu) to reserve a place.

Bus Schedules

Bus 1: Leave Urbana Free Library (Elm Street side) at 7:00 p.m. Return departure from Lincoln Hall at 9:15 p.m.

Bus 2: Leave Douglas Branch Library, 504 E. Grove St. at 6:50 p.m. Arrive Champaign Public Library, 200 W. Green St at 7:00 p.m. and leave for Lincoln Hall at 7:10 p.m. Return departure from Lincoln Hall at 9:15 via Douglas Branch and then Champaign Main Library.

Spring Exhibition

Babylon to Baseball: Recent Additions to the Rare Book & Manuscript Library

24 January —16 May 2014

Curated by: Valerie Hotchkiss, Marten Stromberg, Anna Chen, Caroline Szylowicz, Tad Boehmer, Tony Hynes, Chloe Ottenhoff, Dennis Sears, and Sarah Lindenbaum

babe ruth

The Rare Book & Manuscript Library has made a number of important book and manuscript additions over the past few years. This exhibition showcases over thirty exciting new pieces.

Collections and items highlighted range from a 4000 year old Babylonian clay tablet to scarce baseball reference works once owned by the American League President's Office. Further exhibits include two Incunabula (pre-1501 imprints), a number of never-before-seen items from the new Gwendolyn Brooks Papers, two recent Carl Sandburg acquisitions, two Theatre Royal, Drury Lane playbills, job printing examples from Californian Peter Koch, and perhaps the only known writing specimen of John Webster, dramatist and contemporary of Shakespeare and author of The Duchess of Malfi (1614).

But wait, there's more!

Also on display are original drawings by the graphic artist and famous Dickens illustrator, George Cruikshank, a letter from Marcel Proust to his close friend Reynaldo Hahn, the fantastic, if not exquisite 1832 book of parrot illustrations by Edward Lear, and a postcard from H. G. Wells to his brother Fred taking credit for the original idea of the atomic bomb.

RBML'ers Create Tastefully-Competitive Textual Treats

We Real Cool and Little Men, Little Women Actually Win Awards

edible books entry

The University Library sponsors an annual "Edible Book Festival." This year, RBML'ers Chloe Ottenhoff, Tad Boehmer (together with his mother, Liesel Wildhagen) and Rachel Lavenda entered culinary art.

little men, little women


Marcel Proust

Proust in Chicago 

Alliance Française Welcomes RBML Display

On Saturday, March 8, RBML’s Proust collection was featured at the Alliance Française de Chicago’s annual "Festival de la Francophonie." A presentation of the history and extent of our world-class holdings kicked off a day-long display of original editions of Swann’s Way, as well as letters from Proust, Marie de Régnier, and Colette during the bookfair portion of the event, to the surprise and delight of Chicagoland Proust enthusiasts and other curious Francophiles.

Proust exhibit handoutRBML Brochure for Summer 2013 Commemorative Proust Exhibition Wins National Award

Brochure Wins ACRL-RBMS 2014 Leab Exhibition Award

We are happy to announce that the brochure for last summer's exhibition celebrating the 100th anniversary of Proust's Du côté de chez Swann (Swann's Way) has won the Division Four (brochures) prize in the annual exhibition awards sponsored by the Rare Books & Manuscripts Section (RBMS) of the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) division of the American Library Association (ALA).

Better known as the "Leab Award" (for its sponsors, Katharine Kyes and Daniel J. Leab, the publishers of American Book Prices Current), the competition awards prizes in five divisions, from "expensive" to "electronic." This is the first Leab award, in any category, for the Rare Book & Manuscript Library.

Caroline Szylowicz, the Rare Book & Manuscript Library's Kolb-Proust Librarian and Curator of Rare Books and Manuscripts, curated the exhibition and composed a skillfully-condensed summary of the creation of the first volume of Proust's masterpiece, A la recherche du temps perdu (In Search of Lost Time.)

Dennis Sears, RBML's Public Programs Manager (and "E-News" editor) designed the brochure, serendipitously-pitched into a form found "visually striking" by the award's judges.

Copies of the brochure are still available for the asking. A .pdf version may also be found here in IDEALS, the University's institutional depository. The press release is found at

April No. 44 Society Meeting

Field Trip to the Fresh Press!

The Wednesday, April 9 3 p.m. meeting of the No. 44 Society is a field trip to the Fresh Press. Because this trip will feature actual paper-making, there will have to be a limit of fifteen participants. To reserve your spot, please contact the No. 44 Society Secretary, Tad Boehmer at: boehmer2 (at) illinois (dot) edu. Reservations will close April 6, so make yours today!

The Remaining 2013—2014
Schedule of Meetings of
The No. 44 Society,
a Convivial Confab for Book Collectors

April 9, 2014, 3:00 P.M. Field Trip!

Please join us for a field trip to the Fresh Press! Pull a piece of paper and find out more about what's happening in the book arts in our area.

May 14, 2014, 3:00 P.M. in RBML

Paul Gehl, Custodian of the John M. Wing Foundation on the History of Printing at the Newberry Library in Chicago will talk about the University of Illinois Cavagna Collection.

RBML to Host 2014 Boneyard Art Festival Event
Thursday April 10, 3-5 p.m.

"Art and Music of the Spanish Civil War" Presentation and Flash Exhibition to Feature Pete Seeger Materials

spanish civil warSeventy-five years ago, on April 1st, Francisco Franco declared victory against the Republican Forces in Spain, marking the end of the Spanish Civil War. The end of the war also resulted in a return home for those surviving international volunteers who went to Spain to fight for the Republican cause. Here at Illinois we hold a large set of papers from some of these volunteers, as well as a collection of propaganda posters from the war. We will be showing posters from the collection and featuring some of the music of the International Brigades, as recorded by the Almanac singers (including the late Pete Seeger) in 1943. Like other members of the Young Communist League of America, Pete Seeger leafletted for the cause of the volunteers during his time at Harvard in the late 1930s.

Don't Forget Will Shakespeare's Birthday!
He Turns 450!

will shakespeareWednesday,
23 April at 3 p.m.
346 Library (RBML)

Cake & libations to anyone who can recite fourteen lines (or a sonnet) from Shakespeare!

William Smith and Carl Sandburg

RBML Welcomes Gift of Carl Sandburg Items

Daughter of Poet's Portraitist Donates Further Materials

When Kathlin Smith, daughter of the artist William A. Smith (1918-1989), read in the news about the recent RBML discovery of an unpublished poem by Carl Sandburg (“A Revolver”), she called to ask if we might want some old files from her father.

William A. Smith was not only the artist who painted Sandburg’s portrait for the National Portrait Gallery, but also a close friend of the poet. We accepted the generous donation, of course, and received an interesting packet of letters, clippings, and programs, including a note in which Sandburg expressed some disdain for fellow author Sinclair Lewis!

About a month later, Ms. Smith called again to say that she had found three sketches by her father—two of Sandburg and one of Sandburg’s study in North Carolina. These, too, have now been donated to RBML.

But now RBML is thrice lucky, as Kathlin has sent another packet of Sandburg-related material.

Included in the shipment are six holograph poems in Sandburg's hand, as well as ten photographs, and a lithograph portrait of Sandburg, signed (on stone) by Sandburg and Smith. The litho was the basis for the 1978 Sandburg U.S. postage stamp.

We are so grateful to Ms. Smith—once again—for adding these important Sandburg papers and artwork to the Sandburg Archives at the University of Illinois.

RBML Welcomes
New Staff Member

Meet Michelle Yestrepsky!

Michelle Y.

We are pleased to announce that Michelle Yestrepsky has joined the staff of the Rare Book & Manuscript Library as our new Administrative and Public Programs Assistant. Michelle comes to us from Ann Arbor, Michigan. She has a MA in Social Work from the University of Michigan and has recently moved to Urbana with her husband, who is a post-doctoral researcher in Chemistry. We hope you will have a chance to meet Michelle soon!

Former Velde Awardee Featured in Guardian Podcast

Michael Sherborne Discusses
Wells' Novel, The World Set Free

Former Velde Visiting Scholar Awardee and biographer of H. G. Wells, Michael Sherborne (Class of 2006), was recently featured in a highly-energetic podcast on the Guardian website:

The discussion, joined by Graham Farmelo, author of the recent book, Churchill’s Bomb, positions Wells as a prescient and influential figure in production of The Bomb.

The section on Wells, Churchill, and The Bomb is about twenty minutes into the podcast.

RBML Now on Twitter

Help Us Build a Base of Followers!

RBML is officially on Twitter! There are not enough characters to write out “University of Illinois Rare Book & Manuscript Library,” so our account information is: U of Illinois RBML @IllinoisRBML.

Rare Book & Manuscript Library
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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